Matthew Dancona

Gordon’s roof

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Today’s speech by George Osborne attacking Gordon Brown’s record for economic competence is an important development in the rolling out of Tory strategy. The charge that Gordon is not up to the job is not new, of course, but this is the first time it has been put at the heart of the Conservative attack. The notion that the PM failed to “fix the roof while the sun was shining” will be central to the Cameroon assault on Brown’s credibility.

How things change. A year ago, the worry among thoughtful Tories was that the election would be a battle between change (Cameron) and competence (Brown): their fear was that, as charismatic as Dave might be, his box-fresh appeal could not trump Gordon’s weathered, Gore-tex dependability. But, since Northern Rock, “disc-gate”, and the gathering of economic clouds, the Conservatives have felt emboldened to attack Brown over his supposedly strongest asset.

The idea that Gordon was “the change” is long gone, sacrificed on the altar of his indecision over the election. His image as a sea-green incorruptible had been damaged by the David Abrahams affair and the drip-drip of stories about Peter Hain’s Deputy Leadership campaign. Now Osborne – a man Brown cannot stand – dares to call him an amateur. Sparks will fly.